Midsummer Flavour Thesaurus at Hardy’s

Our friend Dominique is the owner and lovely host of Hardy’s Brasserie in W1. We often go for a meal or for an event, and Hardy’s does host many interesting sessions every year.
This 2010 Summer Solstice was no exception. The invitation promised an evening ‘classic, interesting & unusual flavour combinations and celebrate the launch of The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, new columnist for The Times’
I was intrigued. As I walked in the venue, arranged ‘conference style’, I was greeted by a very cold glass of chardonnay and I took my seat. It was hot monday night! After a little wait, Dominique introduced Niki Segnit and her work. Although Niki seemed a bit nervous at first, she soon explained the reasons behind her book and how the book can be used in the kitchen of any ‘keen cook’ (which I guess, I consider myself to be too). The idea behind her three years work is to examine flavours (not tastes!) and their pairings, how they work, why they work and share a wealth of ideas to create seductive plates and combinations. I did buy the book as I figured I surely do not own anything of such type in my (kitchen) library. At 18.99 it seemed a little pricey but it looks nice too – it offers a flavour wheel too, and having used one for aromatherapy, I can vouch for the benefits of such wheels. We will see once I actually use it anyway.
After the talk, myself, my husband and two girlfriends enjoyed some more chardonnay and some ‘thesaurus’ canapes (I was not too convinced by the fried bread with banana and cheese, I must admit). Finally we took our seats for dinner. The set menu was very good value (¬£15 for three courses) and I felt brave… as starter, I chose Morcilla – Spanish black pudding – with broad beans & mint. It was actually spectacular… I never thought I would enjoy a blood sausage, but it was so well cooked, full or flavour with the broad bean adding some fresh contrast (or rather, pairing). I throughly enjoyed my dish. Rob and Jo had Grilled tomato & sage pesto bruschetta which was probably not as exciting as my morcilla. 
My main was a risotto with beetroot and goat’s cheese, which was quite nice, with a subtle goat’s cheese flavour which did not over power the beetroot. 


The other diners opted for different choices. Lemon & coriander leaf crusted cod and portuguese pork stew with clams, both interesting dishes, particularly in the case of the pork with clams. Despite being portuguese, my Argentinian companion defined it more ‘spanish’. Well it is still the same peninsula after all.
Desserts were a little bit of a let down, more than anything in the presentation but they were nevertheless refreshing. I had mango and pineapple with salt and chilli (yes, fresh, properly hot, chilli!), the girls had Brillat Savarin cheese with strawberries while Rob had probably the nicest dish of all, Apple & coriander seed ice cream.
Each dish had a paired wine – we only had our glasses with the mains, but I think at that point I had drank too much chardonnay to really appreciate the wine pairing! 


Well done to Dominique for trying out such a different idea on what proved to be a fun evening out.

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